Civic Action

Challenge Accepted: Watch Philadelphia High School Students Hear Challenges to Community-Based Issues at the Aspen Challenge Opening Forum

February 22, 2018  • Youth Leadership Programs

Year two of the Aspen Challenge: Philadelphia saw eight new schools and 152 new students step up to the Aspen Challenge.

Providing inspiration, tools, and a platform to design solutions to address critical issues, the Aspen Challenge offers young people a chance to practice critical thinking, be creative, and offer fresh perspectives on pressing issues.

At Drexel University’s Behrakis Grand Hall, challenges were issued around poverty reduction, combating cyberhate, engaging more young people around environmental preservation, the arts, and mental health by speakers including University of Pennsylvania oncologist, bioethicist, and professor, Ezekiel Emanuel and Explorer at Large founder and CEO, Josh Bernstein.

Character Lab founder and CEO, Angela Duckworth, best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker, MK Asante, and Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions senior fellow, Jamiel Alexander provided inspiration and entertainment.

Teams of eight students and two educator coaches will reconvene in eight weeks to present solutions before a panel of judges and peers for a chance to bring their ideas to the Aspen Ideas Festival stage this summer.

Check out challenges issued at the Aspen Challenge: Philadelphia Opening Forum below and at

Jane Golden
I challenge you to use art to raise awareness about the school-to-prison pipeline in your community and promote restorative justice and education over incarceration.

Josh Bernstein
I challenge you to educate your community about the factors contributing to climate change and increase community awareness, action, and involvement to improve the health of the urban environment.

Ezekiel Emanuel
I challenge you to improve the health of your community by enabling people of all ages to bring four habits into their lives: good nutrition, regular exercise, balanced emotional health, and community volunteerism.

Jamila Harris-Morrison
I challenge you to design a program that disrupts one or more of the factors contributing to the generational cycle of poverty and, in doing so, creates opportunities for education or training after high school, affordable housing, and/or sustainable careers.

Randi Boyette
I challenge you to reimagine the use of digital tools that often amplify bullying and hate and use them to create online spaces of support, respect, and acceptance.